African RWC hopefuls set for Super Sunday
Kenya are in pole position to make history and qualify for a Rugby World Cup for the first time after maintaining their winning run in the Confederation Africaine de Rugby Africa Cup Division 1A Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying tournament in Antananarivo on Wednesday.
Kenya, aiming to break Namibia's recent stranglehold as the Africa Region’s second representative on Rugby's greatest stage, recorded a bonus point 34-0 win over Madagascar to open up a four-point lead over Zimbabwe at the top of the table with one round remaining on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s 24-20 defeat to Namibia in the opening match of the day means that it is mathematically possible for all three teams to finish top of the table going into Super Sunday when Madagascar play Namibia and Kenya face Zimbabwe.
To have any hope of winning the title, Namibia, Rugby World Cup ever-presents since 1999, need to take maximum points from their clash with bottom-of-the-table Madagascar and hope Zimbabwe beat Kenya with neither side picking up a bonus point in the process.
Such a scenario would put all three teams level on 10 points with points difference then taking care of who finishes top and qualifies for England 2015 as Africa 1 and who finishes second and enters the Repechage.
If the sides still cannot be separated by competition points or points difference then the following criteria applies in this order:
- the team with the best try difference - tries scored minus tries conceded
- the team with the highest 'points for' total
- the team with highest number of tries scored
- the team ranked highest in the IRB World Rankings at the beginning of the tournament
CAR Division 1A standings:
1. Kenya 10 points; 2. Zimbabwe 6 points; 3 Namibia 5 points; 4. Madagascar 0
Madagascar 0-34 Kenya
Lock Ronnie Mwenesi made a sensational return to the Kenya starting line-up after scoring a brace of first-half tries to help the Simbas record a second straight bonus-point win.
Mwenesi crossed in the 3rd and 20th minutes - either side of a try from second row partner Oliver Mangeni - as Kenya opened up a 17-0 lead inside the first quarter.
Centre Humphrey Kayange then raced home for the all-important fourth try before hooker Maxwell Adaka got in on the act as the half drew to a close with Kenya leading 27-0.
Had it not been for number handling errors and fly half Kenny Andola's off day with the boot - he was only able to convert one of his four kicks at goal - Kenya would have been even further out of sight at half-time.
Both sides lost a man to the sin-bin 14 minutes into a scrappy third quarter before Kenya captain and flanker Andrew Amonde, the match winner against Namibia in round one, scored his second try in the space of four days.
Madagascar's misery was complete moments later when replacement Saloniaina Anth Razafindratsimba was sent off by English referee Luke Pearce.
Namibia 24-20 Zimbabwe
Namibia came from behind to beat Zimbabwe, scoring 14 unanswered points in the second half, to keep their slim qualification hopes alive.
Namibia drew first blood when fly half Theuns Kotze landed an early penalty before Zimbabwe responded with a try from full back Tangai Nemadire which was converted by Guy Cronje.
A penalty try and Kotze’s conversion edged Namibia ahead again but their lead lasted all but a few minutes after Cronje kicked a penalty to level the scores at 10-10.
Stephen Hunduza crossed for a 34th minute try, converted by Cronje, who added a penalty shortly after the re-start to put Zimbabwe 10 points clear.
However two converted tries from back row duo, Renaldo Bothma and Rohan Kitshoff, saw Namibia to victory.
Tour reaches Madagascar
With the Webb Ellis Cup arriving in Antananarivo as part of the popular Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour driven by Land Rover and DHL, a festival atmosphere and a vociferous capacity crowd looks set to welcome the decisive round of matches on Sunday.
The Tour will feature school and club visits, United Nations World Food Programme (RWC 2015 humanitarian partner) activation and the IRB's Get Into Rugby programme, which has been responsible for more than 500,000 boys and girls taking up the sport since its launch in 2013.
IRB Vice Chairman Oregan Hoskins said: "Rugby in Africa is thriving. More than xx men, women and children now play the game on the vast continent, and no place better embodies the sheer passion of African Rugby than Madagascar."
CAR President Abdelaziz Bougja added: "We are proud that the Rugby World is focused on African Rugby as we look set to confirm our representative to Rugby World Cup 2015. The standard of Rugby in this great continent continues to grow, along with participation, and the compelling nature of this tournament is certainly a reflection of that growth. We are set for a fantastic final round of matches.”
The IRB and CAR are committed to developing Rugby across Africa. Between 2013 and 2016, the IRB will be investing more than £8 million in tournaments, development, administration and high performance across the continent.
Watch all the action from the final round of matches on Sunday live at www.irb.com and join the conversation @rugbyworldcup.com.